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The Long Run: How FROM THE STORM went from 0 - 14,000 in 3 days.


Trainer Shoe

My efforts at maintaining this blog have so far been abysmal.

No more!

This is a long overdue post that was originally going to be about Amazon's KDP Select scheme and how its free promotion worked out for From The Storm. It's still going to be about that, but a little more besides.

So, how has From The Storm been doing in the last couple of months?

What's that saying about March coming in like a lion and out like a lamb?

Well that, but backwards.

The book launched in January, and over the following 8 weeks it would sell a few copies, mostly to family and friends. During that time I set off along the unfamiliar but now well-trodden path of marketing, building a platform, tweeting, retweeting, shouting-out, emailing, sharing, Facebook, the works. I met some interesting, helpful and like-minded people (mentioned below) and became more and more convinced that self-publishing was the right way to go.

But I still wasn't selling any books. At some point in mid-February my sales flat-lined and it wasn't difficult to see why. For all of my efforts to get noticed on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere, I wasn't getting any exposure on the one essential platform: Amazon.

I wouldn't say I was feeling frustrated. Someone told me that the process of getting your book noticed was a marathon, not a sprint, and as a distance runner this appealed to me. I know that the early stages of a long run can be daunting.  Your head is filled with voices telling you to give in, telling you that you're wasting your time and energy and you'll fail before the finish.  I also know that these voices fade as your momentum improves. I wasn't frustrated, I knew it would take time.

However, I needed a boost. A sip of water, a good track on the 'phones, one of those horrible energy gels (bleugh), anything to pick me up and tell me I could do this.

I had read a couple of posts by other authors on the KDP Select free promotion, most notably this one by Jeff Shelby on his book Thread of Hope:

How Thread of Hope Hit #1 At Amazon

I had signed up for KDP Select when I published: there seemed no reason not to as I wasn't yet on any other platform. After a few more passes at the text, I republished with an updated cover and set the date of my first free promotion for three days in early March, happily coinciding with World Book Day. I was not expecting anything like the amount of downloads experienced by Jeff. To be honest, I would have been happy if only a few more people had my book on their Kindles.

Thursday 1st March arrived and I started to watch the stats.

By Sunday, my book was owned by almost 14,000 people around the world.

I can't really begin to explain how that feels. To know that I suddenly had an audience of that many people, that folk I had never met and would never meet were about to read something I had poured my life into - now that's a boost.

OK, so there was no financial reward yet - effectively I had just completed a spectacularly successful bout of flyering - but that didn't matter. My book was being read. It got into the top 10 most popular free books on Amazon. At one point it was the third most popular thing on the Kindle Store period, beating even the Kindle itself.  I had exposure.

Things started to go very well after that. The visibility of From The Storm as a 'recommended' book meant that people started to buy it too. After a torrent of sales in March, things have now settled into a comfortable, steady stream. Nothing life-changing yet, but I'm still selling books.

I also started to get reviews, really nice reviews. These have been another big boost and I encourage anyone who has read and enjoyed an indie book to review it on Amazon. I've read two such books in the last two months and happily both have been great:

Music or Death by David Owen

Crow Wing by Jesse VanDerWalker

There is still some divide over whether or not KDP Select is a good thing.  Of course it ties you to Amazon, but only for a short period.  I'm not sure I can see any long-term benefits yet, but to my mind there's no better way for independent authors to increase their readership, at least when you're just starting out.

More nice things happened in March. From The Storm was awarded 'Best Book of the Week' by @citygirlnomore on her blog, http://citygirlturnedsuburbanmum.com, was featured by Jenny Richardson on her blog Renaissance of Reading and was listed as a featured book on Kindle Promo.

I was also reviewed and interviewed by Susannah Radford, a Scottish reporter interested in the Indie Author phenomenon, on her Z.N.A. blog.

Oh, and my son Joe started crawling. So we're no longer safe in our own home.

The early stages of my long run are over and I've now settled into a comfortable pace. There's still a long way to go, but this is do-able and I'm enjoying it.

After all, the long run is not about the destination or the speed, it's about the...

...Time On Feet...

A clumsy bit of crypticity which helps me say that I've also started writing my second book, aiming for completion this year.  More on that in later posts.

I'd like to thank the following people for their help and encouragement over the last few months:

Rachel Abbott (@Rachel__Abbott)

Emily Tippets (@EMTippetts)

Jesse VanDeWalker (@TheVanDeWriter)

David Owen (@dnjowen)

Jeff Shelby (@jeffshelby)

David Gaughran (@DavidGaughran)

Dennis Coughlin (@DennisJCoughlin)

Jenny Richardson (@Jep2218)

CityMom (@citygirlnomore)

Ashley Barron (@dcPriya)

David Weeks (@dw269)

If you don't already follow them, you should!

Finally, here's a tenuous quote to round things off.  If anyone knows the source, please comment and let me know.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.